A Conversation for The Cerne Abbas Giant, Dorset, England

Tom Lethbridge, maverick archaeologist

Post 1


Maverick archaeologist Tom Lethbridge reasoned there must be more chalk figures in England than the two or three that were still there in the 1950's.

Reasoning from the Cerne Abbas Giant, that this outline has needed to be "freshened up" at intervals since it was carved, (in order to keep the outline crisp and visible)Lethbridge reasoned that other chalk giants must once have existed, but were allowed to become overgrown and to dissappear back into the soil.

If that were so, then the effort of scouring their outlines must have left detectable traces - sudden "mini-trenches" in the chalk running much deeper than the chalk on either side, and filled with earth, vegetative residues and chalk rubble.

Working from mediaeval and Elizabethan acounts of chalk giants nearby to Plymouth Ho, Lethbridge went loking for the other chalk carvings that were perfectly visible 500 years ago but which were not apparent to the eye in the 1950's.

armed with thousands of bamboo sticks and willing volunteers, he FOUND them.... simply by plunging a stick in, where there appeared to be a long-forgotten trench in the chalk. The sticks presented the image of another chalk giant - obviously male - and a Goddess (presumed) riding in a chariot.

Now I wonder if a similar technique could be used on the Cerne Abbas figure - was he really depicted as carrying a cloak? Is there a head dangling from his left hand?

The Lethbridge technique - and here is a man worthy of a Guide entry in his own right - might resolve this?

Tom Lethbridge, maverick archaeologist

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

The only thing I'd be suspicious of in that is your statement that chalk drawings were perfectly visible 500 years ago. I don't think there are any records that old that mention chalk drawings, so how do you know?

Tom Lethbridge, maverick archaeologist

Post 3


I'm vaguely remembering this from Lethbridge's own account of unearthing "the old gods" from a hillside overlooking Plymouth Ho.

Apparently his starting point were letters and local accounts which appeared to claim chalk outline figures were still just about visible from the Ho in the time of Elizabeth 1. (Q:- how long would it take for something the size of Cerne Abbas to become overgrown to the point of invisibility - a good couple of hundred years?) Armed with this knowledge, he recruited willing volunteers and a few thousand bamboo poles and went looking for softer and deeper areas in the hillside, suggesting the chalk had at one time been scoured back. Planting a pole wherever the ground suggested , the ghostly pictures started to appear as he plotted them...

Colin Wilson provides a good starting-point to Lethbridge's way of thinking in the opening four chapters of "Mysteries", although Lethbridge's own books are always a better primary source.

(Question: while the "new" Celtic gods look plausible, there is always the possiblility of self-delusion, of the Rorschach effect: "filling in the blanks" to complete the picture you expect to see. )

I'll try to locate links to picturesand further sources - as I say, Lethbridge was one of the last great British eccentrics, and deserves a Guide entry!

Tom Lethbridge, maverick archaeologist

Post 4



A general essay focusing on his work with the pendulum and dowsing.


Whoops.... my memory got it completely wrong. It wasn't Plymouth Ho at all, it was Wandlesbury Camp...

The cover of the book "Gogmagog" shows one of the "new Gods" Lethbridge's method discovered in the chalk. This looks oddly compelling, doesn't it?

Tom Lethbridge, maverick archaeologist

Post 5



Shoulsd do for now...off to research and refresh my mind about TC Lethbridge to see if a Guide entry can be put together!

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